Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Man I Used To Know...

...so goes the haunting lyrics coming from the dulcet pipes of Jimmy Rodgers, one of the 60’s popular singing idols.

And truly if one lives long enough, one will invariably arrive at that decisive moment, the fork in the road, to pause and reflect if indeed one is looking at a virtual stranger in the harsh mirror of one’s own eyes. Credit a quickly evolving and changing world coming and going at a fast clip. Nothing stays static. Everything is in flux. Time becomes a fast slideshow of events and things that most times are missed by startled viewers.

And it is only when one decelerates from the pace of life and ponders that one realizes the rapid changes exploding all around, causing one to somehow get estranged and disoriented, confused and maybe even, angry.

Thus, an assessment becomes critical to recover focus and relevance.

First, to understand and accept that changes permeate to the very core of what makes a man. From physical looks, to cognitive abilities, outlooks, and even to long-held and maybe even considered “absolute” values (social mores, morality, ethics, etc).

Nothing escapes the very powerful and all-encompassing whirlwind called change. Thus, a re-assessment becomes imperative, or one loses one’s compass that one uses to steer one’s life to its avowed ends.

In schools run by Jesuits, part and parcel of student life were scheduled annual events designed precisely for this purpose. Surprisingly it was called an Annual Retreat, assumedly in keeping with the temper of its founder’s milieu, Ignatius of Loyola, loyal soldier and defender of his kings - first of his temporal king in his home country then after founding his religious society that of Mystical King of the world. Upon closer scrutiny, the term does suggest some kind of running away or turning back from a fight, rather than the more apropos retrospection and introspection of the myriad of events that shaped the year just lived. And in keeping with the military milieu, more like a transient but tactical regrouping with the intended purpose of engaging a better fight.

And in this respect, there were devised strict written standards and procedures designed to accomplish optimum results for the spiritual exercises, which were in the real manner of speaking, religiously followed by its adherents, both in the clergy and lay apostolate.

And one must confess that those exercises were very cathartic, a necessary balm in reviving a flagging animo or a welcomed medium for fresh instructions to clear the path of strays, confusion and puzzlement, or put differently, a steerage change in course away from the “road to perdition”.

In fine, it was a total exercise in “getting back to the basics” for Christians, and I suppose for all those following true religions.

Take stock of virtues and see if they align with the standards – both moral and theological, both natural and divinely infused. The moral virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. And the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.